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Living Out the Word Made Flesh Sixty years ago I found myself distracted, Eugene Peterson writes. A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor. And so began Peterson s journey to live and teach a life of congruence congruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we Living Out the Word Made Flesh Sixty years ago I found myself distracted, Eugene Peterson writes. A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor. And so began Peterson s journey to live and teach a life of congruence congruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we do it, between what is written in Scripture and how we live out that truth. Nothing captures the biblical foundation for this journey better than Peterson s teachings over his twenty-nine years as a pastor. As Kingfishers Catch Fire offers a never-before-published collection of these teachings to anyone longing for a richer, truer spirituality. Peterson s strikingly beautiful prose and deeply grounded insights usher us into a new understanding of how to live out the good news of the Word made flesh. This is a stunning record of one man s decision to discover not only how to be a pastor but how to be a human being."


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Living Out the Word Made Flesh Sixty years ago I found myself distracted, Eugene Peterson writes. A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor. And so began Peterson s journey to live and teach a life of congruence congruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we Living Out the Word Made Flesh Sixty years ago I found myself distracted, Eugene Peterson writes. A chasm had developed between the way I was preaching from the pulpit and my deepest convictions on what it meant to be a pastor. And so began Peterson s journey to live and teach a life of congruence congruence between preaching and living, between what we do and the way we do it, between what is written in Scripture and how we live out that truth. Nothing captures the biblical foundation for this journey better than Peterson s teachings over his twenty-nine years as a pastor. As Kingfishers Catch Fire offers a never-before-published collection of these teachings to anyone longing for a richer, truer spirituality. Peterson s strikingly beautiful prose and deeply grounded insights usher us into a new understanding of how to live out the good news of the Word made flesh. This is a stunning record of one man s decision to discover not only how to be a pastor but how to be a human being."

30 review for As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jason Kanz

    I waited for the release of As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God (Waterbrook, 2017) by Eugene Peterson for many months, yet when I received it, I was reluctant to begin. There is a certain desire to savor what may be one of the final books by a favorite author. Yet ultimately, it does no good to look at a meal with admiration; one must eat. And Kingfishers is a satisfying meal. I knew little about the book when I pre-ordered it in November. When I waited for the release of As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God (Waterbrook, 2017) by Eugene Peterson for many months, yet when I received it, I was reluctant to begin. There is a certain desire to savor what may be one of the final books by a favorite author. Yet ultimately, it does no good to look at a meal with admiration; one must eat. And Kingfishers is a satisfying meal. I knew little about the book when I pre-ordered it in November. When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised at its length, 372 pages. In the opening letter to the reader, I was also surprised to discover that the book was a collection of 49 teachings from Peterson's 29 years as a pastor. The editorial team wrote, "Throughout this definitive collection of teachings, Peterson is intentional in keeping the main idea the main idea: that we, as Christians, live lives of congruence. Put another way, that the inside matches the outside. Or as we used to hear, that we indeed practice what we preach." Congruence is a good descriptor. The 49 sermons were broken into seven parts. Each part contained seven sermons centered around the writings of Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon (save one about Job), Peter, Paul, and John. The sermons cover the ground between Genesis 1 and the end of John's Revelation. Through his books, Peterson has reinforced several themes for me: the importance of prayer, the sacredness of the ordinary, and the the beauty of the Word, expressed through words. Each of these themes found their way into the pages of Kingfishers. Although I love words, I fail to capture meaning and beauty the way Peterson so consistently does. My hope is that sharing a few of his words whets your appetite for more. Regarding the Sabbath--"One day a week stop what you are doing and pay attention to what God has been and is doing" (page 13). "We are always drifting off into the impersonal. It is easier and less demanding. But it is also demeaning and estranging. Always and everywhere in Scripture our attention is brought back to the central fact: God is a person; God makes persons; God remakes persons. A person like me" (p. 25). "We live in a culture that knows little or nothing of a life that listens and waits, a life that attends and adores" (p. 77). From my favorite chapter, The Beauty of Holiness, "Beauty is the outside and holiness is the inside of what is essentially the same thing: life full and vibrant, life God created and God blessed, life here and now" (p. 78). "We read and live at different speeds" (p. 158). "A critical question every Christian has to deal with is 'How can I best assist others to a full, mature growth in the Christian way?'" (p. 189). "International diplomacy takes time and careful listening. Parenting takes time and careful listening. Friendship takes time and careful listening. And Scripture takes time and careful listening" (p. 236). "You think religion is a matter of knowing things and doing things. It is not. It is a matter of letting God do something for you: letting Him love you, letting Him save you, letting Him bless you, letting Him command you. Your part is to look and believe, to pray and obey" (p. 291). "I want to know that the nitty-gritty of my life is taken seriously by the gospel, not just the state of my soul. I don't want a religion of neat little slogans about sunsets and heartthrobs. I want something practical that gets into the working parts of my life" (p. 303). "If Jesus makes it into our daily behavior, observers will begin to think there might be something to this after all" (p. 307). "In Christ we see the putting to death of self, the killing of self-centeredness, the crucifixion of the ego" (p. 310). Once again, Peterson has instructed me in the Jesus way, showing me with thoughtful prose the beauty of Jesus and of a life lived with him.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim Cooper

    This is another great Peterson book (the last published before his death), but this one is a little different in that it is a collection of his sermons. It must have been very interesting to be a member of Peterson’s congregation. Peterson the author is not interested in the practical, or the how-to. He doesn’t break down Scripture to see what we can get from it, but who God is in it. That’s one of the things I love about him. But I guess I just assumed that was only his books, and that his preach This is another great Peterson book (the last published before his death), but this one is a little different in that it is a collection of his sermons. It must have been very interesting to be a member of Peterson’s congregation. Peterson the author is not interested in the practical, or the how-to. He doesn’t break down Scripture to see what we can get from it, but who God is in it. That’s one of the things I love about him. But I guess I just assumed that was only his books, and that his preaching was more practical and how-to. Nope! His sermons are just as abstract and beautiful and frustrating as his books. Good for him. Would love to have heard him in person.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bo White

    I think I'll likely treat this as more devotional than a one time book and will say that I'll return to it again and again. Peterson is one of those writers for me.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Eugene Peterson's sermons are delightful and insightful, occasionally quirky but always worth reading. The book is divided in seven, each section "preaching in the company of" a preacher from the Bible, and perhaps my favorite part of the book is Peterson's introductions to each section. This book includes many ideas that show up in his books, and from that standpoint, it's interesting to see them tried out on his local congregation first. This isn't the best of his books, but it is well worth r Eugene Peterson's sermons are delightful and insightful, occasionally quirky but always worth reading. The book is divided in seven, each section "preaching in the company of" a preacher from the Bible, and perhaps my favorite part of the book is Peterson's introductions to each section. This book includes many ideas that show up in his books, and from that standpoint, it's interesting to see them tried out on his local congregation first. This isn't the best of his books, but it is well worth reading.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    As I read slowly through this excellent book, I was again astonished by Peterson's clarity, insight and deep spirituality. These "conversations" are his teaching and preaching compiled over 60 years. There are seven parts from Genesis to Revelation...with seven commentaries in each part. They are short, concise and accessible. Wonderful resource.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Joel Ken

    3.5 Stars. Peterson preaches 49 sermons from the Old and New Testament, giving 7 sermons around each person he considers to be prominent - Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John. This book would have been rated 4, possibly 5, stars if it was strictly sermons from the OT. However, while there were great one-liners and beautiful prose found in his NT sermons, there was also a lot of theological imposition on the text, e.g. "Here's our text for today. I'm going to cover it on a surface 3.5 Stars. Peterson preaches 49 sermons from the Old and New Testament, giving 7 sermons around each person he considers to be prominent - Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John. This book would have been rated 4, possibly 5, stars if it was strictly sermons from the OT. However, while there were great one-liners and beautiful prose found in his NT sermons, there was also a lot of theological imposition on the text, e.g. "Here's our text for today. I'm going to cover it on a surface level, pick up some interesting tidbits that you'll really love, but then say what I want to say about God anyway." That kind of preaching only works some of the time, and only when the Scripture and one's personality are well-connected. For instance, Peterson is at his BEST when preaching from David and Solomon because of their use of poetry and metaphor. Peterson is a poet and he understands these texts as they truly are. However, not all of Scripture is poetic and metaphorical and this can cause Peterson some trouble when it's time to take something literally as the Biblical author intended. This caused some hermeneutical problems in the NT where propositional language can sometimes abound - the ever poetic Peterson couldn't help but spiritualise things. Read this for his work on the OT, especially David and Solomon, but be cautious about his theological conclusions about God from the NT, for they are really impositions masquerading as conclusions.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chad D

    What sermons catch a reader's attention with epiphanic insight depends on the reader, obviously, on what the reader already knows or is thinking about. Some of these sermons I could have done without, but some enlightened experiences I was already processing, and some taught me lessons I had not yet even begun to learn. Throughout is an emphasis on the lived relationship with God. It is a real relationship. God is a real person, a friend, incarnate. Knowing Him is the most intense and important What sermons catch a reader's attention with epiphanic insight depends on the reader, obviously, on what the reader already knows or is thinking about. Some of these sermons I could have done without, but some enlightened experiences I was already processing, and some taught me lessons I had not yet even begun to learn. Throughout is an emphasis on the lived relationship with God. It is a real relationship. God is a real person, a friend, incarnate. Knowing Him is the most intense and important relationship available to the human. And it is available to all. And it is such a rich relationship that it just keeps opening up. There's a whole lot to learn about it: about what it is, about how to be in it. Peterson knew God for many decades. He has a whole lot to teach.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Rogozinski

    Really easy to read. Insightful but not dense. As a collection of sermons the analysis was kept a bit shorter than I would have preferred. At times I wished he would dig a little deeper on a train of thought, but these readings are formatted to be read in 15 min a chapter. Still, his insight and the honesty of his person that comes out in his writing has definitely made me want to read more and has gained my respect. You are invited to read my full review at The Willow Nook *Review copy courtesy Really easy to read. Insightful but not dense. As a collection of sermons the analysis was kept a bit shorter than I would have preferred. At times I wished he would dig a little deeper on a train of thought, but these readings are formatted to be read in 15 min a chapter. Still, his insight and the honesty of his person that comes out in his writing has definitely made me want to read more and has gained my respect. You are invited to read my full review at The Willow Nook *Review copy courtesy of WaterBrook Press*

  9. 5 out of 5

    Robert Turnage

    Really enjoyed this book. Different from his others, in that it spanned the entire scripture canon, rather than focusing on a single book or prophet. The book is a collection of his sermons, but well organized so that you read five or six on the Pentateuch, five or six on the prophets, etc. Not my favorite, but it is kind of hard to stay focused when every ten or so pages you’re starting a new sermon/chapter.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    Loved reading this book. It's essentially a collection of (short) sermons by Peterson covering nearly the entire Bible. It can be read devotionally (due to the brevity of the chapters), and Peterson's heart for ministry and way with words is just captivating. I love his humble but poignant approach to the scriptures. Highly recommend this to anyone and everyone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    Pastoral insight through preaching A fine collection of sermons from Petersen who routinely brings his listeners to Jesus and his grace. Artful and precise exposition and calls to live the ordinary life of Christian worship.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shelby Deeter

    I just finished this book and the one thing I am sure to take away is that I need more Eugene H. Peterson in my life. His voice is timely in this season and he speaks some much needed truth in a manner that leaves you seeing scripture as beautiful, convicting, and awe inspiring. Devouring more of his work is in my future.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Hicks

    I thought, « The Message ? » and then I happened upon the titles of Peterson’s other books. He knows my favorite poets! I love the way he can elegantly tie books of the Bible together and sum up a book in a few paragraphs that don’t look like all the other book summaries out there.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kayleigh Hudson

    This breathed fresh life into scripture for me. I admire how Eugene Peterson makes the gospel come alive, in ways that have implications for the right here, for the now & everyday. What a spiritual giant! This breathed fresh life into scripture for me. I admire how Eugene Peterson makes the gospel come alive, in ways that have implications for the right here, for the now & everyday. What a spiritual giant!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jean

    This is Peterson's best! A great collection of sermons. This is not a quick read but rather one to be chewed on slowly and deliberately.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Micah

    A lifetime of study and wise insight is gathered with a single-minded purpose of pointing at God's invitation to know Him.

  17. 5 out of 5

    George P.

    Near the beginning of his pastorate, Eugene H. Peterson found himself tossed about by “the winds of the times.” The 1960s were a tumultuous decade, and many voices — Civil Rights! Vietnam! Flower Power! — clamored for his attention. On top of that, he felt “increasingly at odds” with his denominational advisors, whose ideas of leadership came “almost entirely from business and consumer models.” Then three things happened. First, he realized he didn’t know how to preach. What he was doing on Sunda Near the beginning of his pastorate, Eugene H. Peterson found himself tossed about by “the winds of the times.” The 1960s were a tumultuous decade, and many voices — Civil Rights! Vietnam! Flower Power! — clamored for his attention. On top of that, he felt “increasingly at odds” with his denominational advisors, whose ideas of leadership came “almost entirely from business and consumer models.” Then three things happened. First, he realized he didn’t know how to preach. What he was doing on Sunday morning was “whipping up enthusiasm” for the church’s programs, not preaching for the “nurturing of souls.” Second, he heard a lecture by Paul Tournier, a Swiss physician, who treated patients not from a “consulting room” but from his “living room,” using “words…in a setting of personal relationship.” In his lecture, Tournier exhibited what Peterson calls a “life of congruence, with no slippage between what he was saying and the way he was living.” Third, he came across a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem, “As Kingfishers Catch Fire,” whose last stanza reads: I say more: the just man justices; Keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces; Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is — Christ. For Christ plays in ten thousand places, Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his To the Father through the features of men’s faces. In Hopkins’ poetic vision, it is Jesus Christ who “lives and acts in us in such ways that our lives express the congruence of inside and outside, this congruence of ends and means.” These three things — pulpit, lecture, poem — came together and shaped Peterson’s understanding and practice of ministry, first as a pastor, then as a writer and professor. As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a collection of 49 sermons Peterson first preached at Christ Our King Presbyterian Church during nearly thirty years of ministry there (1962–1991). The sermons are divided into seven groups, each grouped together with the formula, “Preaching in the Company of _____,” where the fill-in-the-blank is Moses (the Law), David (Psalms), Isaiah (the Prophets), Solomon (Wisdom literature), Peter (the Gospels), Paul (the Epistles), and John (the Johannine literature). Throughout, Peterson strives to “enter into the biblical company of prototypical preachers and work out of the traditions they had developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.” The result is a master class in what Scripture says about the pastoral care of souls. Peterson eschews the notions that spirituality can be pursued apart from everyday life or that it can be sought without the company of others. Instead, as he writes in a characteristic passage: It is somewhat common among people who get interested in religion or God to get proportionately disinterested in their jobs and families, their communities and their colleagues. The more of God, the less of the human. But that is not the way God intends it. Wisdom [literature] counters this tendency by giving witness to the precious nature of human experience in all its forms, whether or not it feels or appears "spiritual" (emphasis in original). This isn’t to deny that spiritual disciplines such as prayer, Scripture reading, and corporate worship are vital. But, Peterson is saying, unless those disciplines make us better workers, family members, neighbors and friends, we haven’t yet achieved the congruence of life to which Scripture bears witness: persons who act in God’s eye what in God’s eye we are, that is, “Christ who lives in [us]” (Galatians 2:20). This is not a book I would recommend to some pastors. For example, if you’re looking for a book that gives you a fool-proof three-step process to ______ (whatever it is that you’re trying to do), skip this one. Or if you’re looking on Saturday night for a three-point sermon you can preach the next morning, don’t read this. Peterson’s sermons are ongoing conversations, not plug-and-play outlines. However, if you’re tossed about by the winds of the times or you’re tired of slapping Bible verses on business principles or if your ministry lacks congruence between the means of discipleship and the ends of Christlikeness, please read this book. It will feed your soul, and through you, the souls of your congregation. Then read it again.   Book Reviewed: Eugene H. Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Way of God Formed by the Word of God (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook, 2017). _____ P.S. If you found my review helpful, please vote “Yes” on my Amazon.com review page. P.S.S. This review was written for InfluenceMagazine.com and appears here by permission.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    This collection of sermons has inspired me more in my teaching than any teaching books I've read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Doug Sullivan

    Peterson at his very best.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Michele Morin

    Attending to the Details of Congruence No one has to remind the forsythia bush outside my dining room window to break forth into yellow luminescence as an announcement that spring has come. The sassy gray squirrel steals shamelessly from the bird feeder “according to his kind,” and the chickadee scolds and stitches up the air behind her — because that is what chickadees do. Of all God’s creation, it is only humanity that struggles toward congruence of our inside with our outside, of our calling a Attending to the Details of Congruence No one has to remind the forsythia bush outside my dining room window to break forth into yellow luminescence as an announcement that spring has come. The sassy gray squirrel steals shamelessly from the bird feeder “according to his kind,” and the chickadee scolds and stitches up the air behind her — because that is what chickadees do. Of all God’s creation, it is only humanity that struggles toward congruence of our inside with our outside, of our calling and our walking. Gerard Manley Hopkins captures the beautiful true-to-essence behaviors of stones and dragonflies, of violin strings and bells in his classic poem “As Kingfisher’s Catch Fire“ and nodding in agreement with his conclusion, Eugene Peterson has borrowed the title for his 2017 compilation of sermons taken from 29 years of preaching from a pulpit in Maryland. Peterson concludes that part of spiritual formation is living into this congruence between “the means by which we live” and “the ends for which we live.” For humans, this is not a mindless outcome of biology and physics, but rather a living out of the Christ life, one glorious manifestation of Hopkins’ “ten thousand places” in which Christ plays. This witness from a poem — along with his realization that there was a disconnect between his preaching and his deepest convictions of what he should be doing as a pastor — marked the beginning of a new way of viewing ministry for Eugene Peterson. He began to see his congregation “just as they were, not how [he] wanted them to be.” He stopped viewing them as “either problems to be fixed or resources to be exploited.” The new collaborative relationship, in worship and in life, is reflected in this collection of forty-nine sermons arranged in seven sections: Part 1: Preaching in the Company of Moses Although Peterson addresses his introductory material to those who preach for a living, those of us who teach or write (for a life) will be enriched by insights like this: “Is it possible to take the Torah apart historically and then put it back together again as a book of faith with theological and literary integrity? I think it is. It is not only possible but worth any effort it might take.” (6) With that in mind, the seven sermons in this section are designed to “nourish the storytelling imagination” (7) through stories in Genesis that reveal the nature and character of God. Abraham, the friend of God; Moses, the signpost pointing to Christ; and a stunning analysis of Leviticus 19:18 that takes the focus off the law and the lists and puts it on love: “the primary verb in our Scriptures.” (37) Part 2: Preaching in the Company of David Sermons based on the Bible’s prayer book, the Psalms, drive home the truth that “prayer is an act of attention.” Reading through the Old Testament right now with my patient husband, we are hopping back and forth between David-on-the-run and David the lyricist. Since “everything that happened in David’s life became prayer,” I am encouraged to let my own context flow seamlessly into conversation with God. Seven sermons from the Psalms bridge Old and New Testaments with surprising connections that encourage me to look for ways in which my own story is woven around and through listening prayer. Part 3: Preaching in the Company of Isaiah I saved this chapter for last (like dessert) because Isaiah is my favorite prophet, and I was not disappointed. The jarring realism of the prophetic word gets ample play in Peterson’s analysis: “Prophets insist that God is the sovereign center, not off in the wings awaiting our beck and call. And prophets insist that we deal with God as God reveals himself, not as we imagine him to be.” A right reading of the prophets protects us from dividing the secular from the sacred, setting off a safe place for a tame God to act, and then tending to our own business in the “real life” category. “Prophets will have none of this.” Everything is God’s, and the flood of His holiness knocks down the dividing walls and brings everything under His scrutiny and jurisdiction. Part 4: Preaching in the Company of Solomon I doubt if I’ve heard seven sermons in my whole life taken from Old Testament Wisdom literature, so I’m in dire need of the enhanced “quotidian imagination” Peterson writes of: an “imagination soaked in the ordinary, the everyday.” With characteristic clarity, Peterson notes a “polarity” among these books in which the Song of Solomon and Job contrast ecstasy with devastation while the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes contrast the sacredness of the everyday round with the determination to persevere in spite of the mundane details. “In these books, human experience as the arena in which God is present and working is placed front and center.” Part 5: Preaching in the Company of Peter In addition to his letters, Peter’s voice vibrates behind Mark’s in the second gospel. With this in mind, the “incarnational storytelling” of the New Testament takes on an electrical quality. Peter’s confession that Jesus is “the Christ” arises from three years of intimate research, meals on the road, sharing of daily space. While we may struggle to embrace the human side of the Jesus portrayed in the Gospels, Peter would have had no doubt. When he made his insightful statement that Jesus is “the Christ,” what Peter was really saying was this: “You are God among us.” And no sooner had he come to this elaborate conclusion, but God the Son began the process of introducing the notion that He would die. Nowhere else do we witness this degree of conceptual whiplash between the idea of Jesus as “God through and through” and “human through and through.” Peterson’s inclusion of his sermon on “the manure story” feels almost like bonus content, for it presents a four verse parable about an unproductive fig tree as an invitation to join God in the slow (and sometimes messy) solution to a presenting problem: Be quiet in the presence of death while waiting for new life to emerge. Part 6: Preaching in the Company of Paul Prolific Paul is described as “the gold standard in the world of theology,” and Peterson dips his brush into seven of Paul’s letters to illustrate four elements of Paul’s “theological imagination: His submission to Scripture — “Paul is not an independent thinker figuring things out on his own. . . As he writes his letters, Paul’s mind is entirely harnessed to Scripture.” (269) His extravagant embrace of mystery — “There is a kind of mind, too common among us, that is impatient of mystery. We want to know what is going on. But such impatience short-circuits maturity.” (271) His use of language — “Ivory tower intellectuals and rubber-hits-the-road pragmatists like things organized and orderly. That is not the kind of language we find in Paul. Paul uses words not to define but to evoke.” (272) His words came to us through letters in accessible terms – “Theology is not talking about God but living in community with persons in relationships . . . [Paul’s} theology was written in community with a host of people in the context of living out the faith.” (273) Part 7: Preaching in the Company of John of Patmos John’s writing emphasizes Jesus’ conversations and His prayers. As a lover of the Word, Peterson throws the spotlight on John’s easy familiarity with the Old Testament: in Revelation’s 404 verses, there are 518 references to earlier scriptures. John wrote in three different genres, but all with the heart and soul of a pastor, communicating in love to a group of believers. Perhaps it is for this reason that Eugene Peterson’s pastoral heart is apparent in this final section: “As it turns out, in this business of living the Christian life, one of the most neglected aspects in reading the Scriptures is reading them formatively and imaginatively, reading in order to live.” “Worship God. . . Worship gathers everything in our common lives that has been dispersed by sin and brings it to attention before God.” As Kingfishers Catch Fire captures the heart and wisdom of a pastor with a sense of calling and a deep knowledge of Scripture. With an overwhelming volume of content available online and so many new books being published every month, these “kingfisher sermons” stand by themselves in their timeless application of Scriptural truth to boots-on-the- ground living. I can’t think of a thing on Netflix or anywhere else that I would bother to “binge watch,” but I most heartily enjoyed (and highly recommend) the “binge-reading” of Eugene Peterson’s sermons. // This book was provided by Waterbrook, a division of Penguin Random House via Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  21. 5 out of 5

    Adam Shields

    Short Review: The seven sections, each with seven sermons, are all looking at how a particular biblical author communicates God to us through scripture. The sections are labeled, ‘Preaching in the company of Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Solomon, or Peter, or Paul, or John of Patmos. If you have read some of his other books you can seem a few of the drafts of ideas that were worked out in his books that started in his sermons. And based on the illustrations and content of the sermons, these str Short Review: The seven sections, each with seven sermons, are all looking at how a particular biblical author communicates God to us through scripture. The sections are labeled, ‘Preaching in the company of Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Solomon, or Peter, or Paul, or John of Patmos. If you have read some of his other books you can seem a few of the drafts of ideas that were worked out in his books that started in his sermons. And based on the illustrations and content of the sermons, these stretched widely throughout his preaching career, from early days with young children to the 50th anniversary of the church that he started. This is a book that I think was primarily written for pastors about preaching. But this is a book that people that are not preachers will also benefit from devotionally. I listened to this on audiobook. I have read a lot of Peterson's books and his writing is usually very conversational and well suited to audiobook. This was well narrated, but a few of the sermons I would have liked to read because the points were fairly subtle. I am going to re-read this again in a few months in print. My slightly longer review is on my blog at http://bookwi.se/as-kingfishers-catch...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Geoff

    Best known for "The Message", this collection of 49 sermons covers the breadth of the Bible. I have loved Peterson's richness in thought and expression and was looking for some inspiration in those areas. I wanted to reflect on how he expressed himself so carefully as a writer. And I wanted to hear how he preached. It is different to the way I have been taught, and the way I have developed. On both accounts, this book is a rich resource. With seven sermons each based on the writings of seven dif Best known for "The Message", this collection of 49 sermons covers the breadth of the Bible. I have loved Peterson's richness in thought and expression and was looking for some inspiration in those areas. I wanted to reflect on how he expressed himself so carefully as a writer. And I wanted to hear how he preached. It is different to the way I have been taught, and the way I have developed. On both accounts, this book is a rich resource. With seven sermons each based on the writings of seven different Biblical authors (from Moses to John), Peterson delves into the different messages these authors had for their audiences, and models how to translate them into contemporary culture. There are only a couple of places where I would have a more conservative view on authorship or composition than he plainly states.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    Summary: A collection of 49 of Peterson’s sermons grouped into seven sections, focused on lives congruent with the teaching of scripture. I’ve been a follower of the writing of Eugene Peterson since I heard him speak on the parables of Jesus after a very successful conference, where he warned us of the dangers that may come with success. He is a person who repeatedly has challenged me to look beyond the obvious, the “glittering images,” to the bedrock realities of keeping company with Jesus. This Summary: A collection of 49 of Peterson’s sermons grouped into seven sections, focused on lives congruent with the teaching of scripture. I’ve been a follower of the writing of Eugene Peterson since I heard him speak on the parables of Jesus after a very successful conference, where he warned us of the dangers that may come with success. He is a person who repeatedly has challenged me to look beyond the obvious, the “glittering images,” to the bedrock realities of keeping company with Jesus. This is a kind of valedictory book, that Peterson has described as his last book, bringing together preaching over the course of his pastoral work into a collection of 49 of his sermons. He groups these is seven groups of seven organized around “preaching in the company of…Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John of Patmos.” Each section is preceded by a brief introduction about the one being kept company with in that part. A theme which ties this collection together in his mind is congruence, particularly between our faith as articulated in Holy Scripture, and the ways we live out that faith. Peterson explains this further in introducing the collection: “The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence–congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between a ship and its prow, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.” I find it almost impossible to summarize all the good I found in this collection without writing a very long review. What is compelling in these sermons is the joining of thoughtful engagement with the biblical text, thoughtful reflection on life, and unforced connections between the two. One sermon that caught my attention was “Train Up a Child” from Proverbs 22:6. After observing that the word we translate as “train” literally means “to rub the gums of a newborn child with oil before it begins to suck its mother’s breast” (scripture is so earthy!), he discusses the implications of this warm, intimate act of helping a child get started right in life. He writes, “Some people have a box labeled ‘Sunday school,’ where training takes place for an hour every week. There is another box labeled for parents that is consulted occasionally when there is misbehavior. One of the most visible boxes these days is child psychology, which is fairly expensive, but at least you know the person working out of that box knows a lot more than you do, which relieves you of some of the responsibility. “All these boxes are useful from time to time, but they have little to do with what is involved in the biblical proverb. The proverb doesn’t come from a box but out of a life lived. It has little to do with advice giving, counseling, or analyzing. Rather it is initiated through personal example and caring. It means that every time you engage in an act of faith in Christ, you are training another person. Every time you love another in obedience to Christ’s command, you are educating someone else. Every time you forgive someone because Christ forgave you, you are assisting materially in the Christian growth of that person. Every time you hope because Christ has promised his help, you are opening up new possibilities of growth in another person.” Each sermon probably takes ten to fifteen minutes to read, but gives you plenty to reflect on for the next half hour, the next day, even the next week. Peterson writes at the beginning of the book his attempts to fit into his denominations expectations of him to motivate people to grow their church, to cast vision, and how this just didn’t fit his sense of pastoral calling. What we are given instead is transcripts of addresses of a pastor bringing out in plain language the meaning of texts, and considerations of what it means to live them out in everyday life. We are also given examples of how this may be done from Genesis to Revelation, from Moses to John of Patmos. These 49 sermons cover much of canonical scripture and begin to help us see how the Word of God written may become indeed, the Word of God for us. This book has been caught up in controversy. At the time of its publication, Peterson gave what was meant to be a kind of “valedictory” interview, during which the interviewer, with his own agenda, pursued a line of questioning about Peterson’s views and pastoral practice around LGBT issues. After the article came out, Peterson, facing bookstores pulling his books, issued a “clarification.” In the end, no one was particularly happy. I question the interviewer’s judgment of pursuing his line of questioning in what was a kind of valedictory interview. I wish Peterson had responded differently or not at all, particularly because his answers and later clarifications might have discouraged people from discovering a treasure. I think it better that this book serve as his “valedictory address.” For me, it not only summed up his life and ministry, but modeled the skillful work of the diligent pastor in preaching week by week. We need more models like this. ____________________________ Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

  24. 4 out of 5

    John

    A soft-spoken pastor who is almost painfully shy shepherds a small church in Maryland for 29 years. His church never grows beyond more than a couple hundred people. This sounds like the life of an anonymous pastor. That would be the case, if the pastor didn’t also have an exceptional gift of writing coupled with a bright imagination. Upon writing, this pastor would go on to write The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that has sold 20 million copies. Peterson also wrote more than 30 A soft-spoken pastor who is almost painfully shy shepherds a small church in Maryland for 29 years. His church never grows beyond more than a couple hundred people. This sounds like the life of an anonymous pastor. That would be the case, if the pastor didn’t also have an exceptional gift of writing coupled with a bright imagination. Upon writing, this pastor would go on to write The Message, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that has sold 20 million copies. Peterson also wrote more than 30 books. Peterson’s final book is As Kingfishers Catch Fire, a compilation of seven sets of seven sermons taken from his 29 years of ministry. As Kingfishers Catch Fire has seven parts, each focused on one of the authors of the Bible: Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John. You might expect Peterson’s sermons to reflect a different style than his writing, but that isn’t the case. Peterson preaches just like he writes: his sermons are peppered with literary references and are crafted with the delicacy of a paintbrush. I had a few overall takeaways from the sermons: first, sitting under a broad sampling of Peterson’s preaching made me better understand while his ministry would have had such a narrow appeal. While Peterson’s gifting is unquestionable, he ministers to his like. He’s a pastor to pastors, a pastor to thinkers. If you are not a reader I can’t imagine that you would track with Peterson’s frequent literary allusions. Second, Peterson makes his audience work quite a bit. He breaks virtually every rule I learned in homiletics. There’s no one big idea, there are rarely practical takeaways, and he infrequently draws from his congregation’s experience in their day to day lives. Third, Peterson is a true lover of the Word of God and that comes out in every sermon, every page, every paragraph. His love of God’s Word surely rubbed off on his people. All of that to say, I came away from this compilation of sermons with a deeper appreciation of Peterson and also a more nuanced understanding of his ministry and even his flaws. Here are some of my favorite parts: "We live in a culture that knows little or nothing of a life that listens and waits, a life that attends and adores.” "Beauty is the outside and holiness is the inside of what is essentially the same thing: life full and vibrant, life God created and God blessed, life here and now.” “The Christian life is the lifelong practice of attending to the details of congruence—congruence between ends and means, congruence between what we do and the way we do it, congruence between what is written in Scripture and our living out what is written, congruence between a ship and its prow, congruence between preaching and living, congruence between the sermon and what is lived in both preacher and congregation, the congruence of the Word made flesh in Jesus with what is lived in our flesh.” “The core message of the gospel is that God invades us with new life, but the setting for this is most often in the ordinariness of our lives. The new life takes place in the place and person of our present. It is not a means by which God solves problems. God creates new life. He is not a problem solver but a person creator.” “Holy ground is dangerous ground.” “God reveals himself, that is, in creation and in Christ, in ways we can see and hear and touch and taste, in place and person. Beauty is the term we apply to these hints of transcendence, these perceptions that there is more going on here than we can account for.” “[O]ur eyes have become lazy, our attention spans atrophied. Our self-preoccupation had reduced us to tunnel vision.” "You think religion is a matter of knowing things and doing things. It is not. It is a matter of letting God do something for you: letting Him love you, letting Him save you, letting Him bless you, letting Him command you. Your part is to look and believe, to pray and obey.” For more reviews see www.thebeehive.live.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Wesley Roth

    Being familiar with Eugene Peterson, I was interested in his latest (and likely last) book that was released this summer. I am so thankful I picked up a copy at my bookstore. This is a wonderful gift that Peterson has provided to Christians, those beginning their faith walk or those who have been walking with Christ for years or decades. As one Goodreads reviewer noted, the "Kingfishers" contains, “seven sections, each with seven sermons, are all looking at how a particular biblical author commu Being familiar with Eugene Peterson, I was interested in his latest (and likely last) book that was released this summer. I am so thankful I picked up a copy at my bookstore. This is a wonderful gift that Peterson has provided to Christians, those beginning their faith walk or those who have been walking with Christ for years or decades. As one Goodreads reviewer noted, the "Kingfishers" contains, “seven sections, each with seven sermons, are all looking at how a particular biblical author communicates God to us through scripture. The sections are labeled, ‘Preaching in the company of Moses, or David, or Isaiah, or Solomon, or Peter, or Paul, or John.'" I actually looked forward to reading each sermon of Peterson's: such beautiful prose, writing, teaching, preaching. I learned quite a bit from his preaching covering these seven men of the Bible. My copy is now filled with highlighting, notes and dogged-eared pages. Some of the excerpts of his preaching that really spoke to me: Preaching in the Company of David: "The Mountains Skipped Like Rams": "Scripture is the Word of God understood, comprehended, honored. Prayer is the Word of God assimilated, absorbed, lived. Scripture without prayer has no soul; prayer without Scripture has no substance. What I hope to develop in our congregation is a fusion of the two: Scripture-prayer or prayer-Scripture. What is the use of knowing Scripture if you aren't living it? What is the use of praying if you don't know to whom you are praying? Worship is a fusion of Scripture and prayer. Our purpose in gathering each Lord's Day is to prepare us to live what we hear, to get what we heard with our ears into our feet as we follow Jesus". (p 93) Preaching in the company of Isaiah: "Holy, Holy, Holy": "Worship is the action that centers our lives in the holy life of God and sets us firmly in the glories of creation and salvation. Faithful and intelligent and reverent worship keeps us in touch with what is real." p. 125 Preaching in the company of John of Patmos: "Why Peter?" "The Christian Life does not consist in achieving great thins for God but in allowing Jesus to use our inadequacy and failure to rehabilitate us to a life experienced as grace and love and obedience. Peter's recovered focus on following Jesus to a sacrificial death, undistracted by what others might or might not be doing under Jesus's emphatic "Follow me," is basic for each of us. The Christian life is not about leadership but "followership," not about becoming more and more but less and less. That's "Why Peter?" We can only live this resurrection gospel of Jesus in the way that Saint John has written it, by joining Peter in his embrace of the local and ordinary, by accepting the continuous renovating forgiveness of Jesus in our lives, and then by following Jesus without culture detours or celebrity distractions. Amen" (p. 357) "As Kingfishers Catch Fire" is a wonderful collection of sermons and teaching by a longtime follower of Jesus and preacher of the Word. I will refer back to this book many times in the years ahead in my study of the Bible.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Patrick Willis

    First off, even though I own another book or two by Peterson, this is the first one that I've actually been able to read for a little bit so far in my life. Right off the get go I'll admit that this book wasn't quite what I expected, though that might not necessarily be a bad thing. "As Kingfishers Catch Fire" is not so much a 'BOOK' as a collection of sermons that Peterson has preached over the many years of faithful service in the ministry. While that wasn't what I was expecting when I requeste First off, even though I own another book or two by Peterson, this is the first one that I've actually been able to read for a little bit so far in my life. Right off the get go I'll admit that this book wasn't quite what I expected, though that might not necessarily be a bad thing. "As Kingfishers Catch Fire" is not so much a 'BOOK' as a collection of sermons that Peterson has preached over the many years of faithful service in the ministry. While that wasn't what I was expecting when I requested to read this book, it did turn out to prove useful as a devotional type book. If you're looking to read this book from cover to cover in a sitting or two, you might be able to do it, but I certainly was not. It's rather lengthy (since it contains numerous teachings from such a long ministry). On top of that there are many parts that I encountered that were a little 'weird' to read, though probably wouldn't be if it were preached or taught audibly (someone who tells you different modalities don't matter, I would argue doesn't quite know what they're talking about, haha). If you are looking for a fantastic book to use as a daily devotional or as a daily personal time book, then I would strongly recommend that you at least CONSIDER looking at this one. He also conveniently divides the book up into various 'eras' of the Bible, i.e. the various parts include a part on Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul, and John. One of the things that I really love about Peterson's book for this purpose, is the fact that he is very purposeful at pairing passages from the Old Testament with the New Testament in his sections dealing with Moses, David, Isaiah, and Solomon (as an Old Testament guy with a New Testament degree, that excited me). Other than as a devotional, it's still a decent read, but not one that I would necessarily move up to the top of my 'to-read' list.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Robert Durough, Jr.

    As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Word of God is a collection of sermons presented to Christ Our King Presbyterian Church (UPCUSA) in Harford County, Maryland, by Eugene H. Peterson between the years of 1962 and 1991. While these sermons have been organized according to their relation to major biblical authors (Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul and John of Patmos), they are completely separate sermons with no real connection to one another—neithe As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Word of God is a collection of sermons presented to Christ Our King Presbyterian Church (UPCUSA) in Harford County, Maryland, by Eugene H. Peterson between the years of 1962 and 1991. While these sermons have been organized according to their relation to major biblical authors (Moses, David, Isaiah, Solomon, Peter, Paul and John of Patmos), they are completely separate sermons with no real connection to one another—neither chronologically or contextually—and no dates are given for their original presentation. This lack of context can make reading a little strange when events are referenced in relative terms (e.g., “A little more than a year ago, three men were orbiting the moon in a space capsule,” [p.8]), some being easier than others to determine the general time of writing. Each sermon is only around six pages long, making them quick and easy reads without too much depth and generally a single overarching point to be made at the end, and the lack of any real connection of one to another easily lends themselves to being chosen and read according to title and/or scripture reference listed in the Contents pages. I imagine some will find this to be very helpful, while others like myself will be left wanting more substance. In my opinion, this could and should have also been released as a series of blog posts free to be read online. *I received a pre-published, uncorrected proof of this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    The author of As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Peterson, is a pastor - and you can tell in his writing. Divided into teachings from each gospel, As Kingfishers Catch Fire is full of fascinating information. I frequently found myself reading aloud to my husband from this novel. Unfortunately, it simply wasn't keeping my attention. I kept being distracted by other books. This book is really only for those who want to learn and are able to focus to do so. However, if you can focus, there is quite a bit go The author of As Kingfishers Catch Fire, Peterson, is a pastor - and you can tell in his writing. Divided into teachings from each gospel, As Kingfishers Catch Fire is full of fascinating information. I frequently found myself reading aloud to my husband from this novel. Unfortunately, it simply wasn't keeping my attention. I kept being distracted by other books. This book is really only for those who want to learn and are able to focus to do so. However, if you can focus, there is quite a bit going on in this book. Peterson has a lot of valuable insight to offer. One example of this insight is as follows: "They [the Israelites] did not want to live by faith but by sight. ... They wanted gods they could use to get what they wanted, like the gods they had in Egypt. ... True, in Egypt it hadn't worked to their benefit, but that was because they didn't own the gods. ... And when you stop to think about it, so do we [want gods]. " pgs. 31-32 If you stop and think about that passage, it makes a heck of a lot of sense. As Kingfishers Catch Fire requires the reader to stop and think frequently, so do not pick up this book looking for a quick read. It requires time and effort. A notebook to take notes with would also be helpful. Recommendations: this is the kind of novel that would be good for a long-term Bible study group or someone who really wants to delve deeper into the Word of God. Disclaimer: I received this book for free in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Amy Langmaack

    This is my first Peterson book, and I couldn't be happier to be starting here. As Kingfishers Catch Fire does not read like the typical non-fiction books I read. Rather, it is a collection of 49 sermons given by Peterson during his 29 years as a pastor in Maryland. This book reads like a transcript of Peterson's sermons. And the format reads a bit differently as well. This collection of 49 sermons is set in seven groups of seven sermons each. The beautiful part of organizing the book in this way This is my first Peterson book, and I couldn't be happier to be starting here. As Kingfishers Catch Fire does not read like the typical non-fiction books I read. Rather, it is a collection of 49 sermons given by Peterson during his 29 years as a pastor in Maryland. This book reads like a transcript of Peterson's sermons. And the format reads a bit differently as well. This collection of 49 sermons is set in seven groups of seven sermons each. The beautiful part of organizing the book in this way is the congruence that flows through the book. There's a thread that begins in the very first chapter and flows throughout the rest of the book in a seamless manner. It's not a straight read through the Bible. It's not a straight read through the Bible. But it's a pulling together of New Testament with Old Testament truths. Peterson writes from a place of understanding his genealogy in a long line pastors and teachers of the Word. There's a weight to the words written (and ultimately spoken) because Peterson realizes he is not starting from scratch. I've marked up so many pages of this book. Underlining key points. Going back to chew on nuggets of information I'd never considered before. There is truth in this book that will make you think in ways you haven't before. I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review is my own, honest opinion.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Evan Steele

    As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a strange name. The books could be more descriptivly titled Wisdom for Walking daily with God. Through 49 short sermons Peterson lays out a case for a simple life, a simple walk, and a simple faith. And if you're thinking "Yeah right! Nothing is simple these days" you're right, and that's what is so remarkable. Peterson's wisdom feels hard fought, the rewards of a life well lived, a walk well tested, and a Word well studied. Every point and conclusion of Peterson's m As Kingfishers Catch Fire is a strange name. The books could be more descriptivly titled Wisdom for Walking daily with God. Through 49 short sermons Peterson lays out a case for a simple life, a simple walk, and a simple faith. And if you're thinking "Yeah right! Nothing is simple these days" you're right, and that's what is so remarkable. Peterson's wisdom feels hard fought, the rewards of a life well lived, a walk well tested, and a Word well studied. Every point and conclusion of Peterson's may not fit perfectly in your theological framework (it didn't mine) but in almost every entry I learned more about the Bible and felt my desire to know it more increase. The sermons are presented as sets coming from The books of Moses, The prophets, Solomon, etc. The over arching idea is Christian Life should be our nature, in that we should breath out, walk out, and work out the life we have been given in Christ. I recommend this book to anyone with even a passing interest in Christianity, but I especially think it would be a help to young pastors and anyone struggling to live out their Christianity more consistently.

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